Wednesday, 27 January 2021


Three MBAS students and their teacher

For the first time high school surfers will have three opportunities to prove that they belong in the Coromandel surfing team. Previously one qualifying event was held. The first competition this year took place two weekends ago in Whangamata where students from Mercury Bay Area School placed well in most of the events.

We caught up with three of the school’s six competitive surfers and teacher Jamie Hutt, who took responsibility for the students’ endeavours on the Coromandel surfing scene and who’s somewhat attached to his surfboard himself. It was an enlightening discussion.

Jack Lockhart, an Under 16 competitor, started surfing only three years ago and he’s completely hooked. In fact, a while ago he took three weeks off school and went to Bali with Timu Malbacher, another MBAS competitive surfer, and his family. "All we did was surfing," Jack said. "That was totally awesome." Asking him what his life ambition is, he didn’t hesitate to say, "I want to become a pro surfer." And then, after a few moments of thought, he said something quite profound, "Surfing is my life. Whenever I come out of the water, I’m a better person than when I went in."

Atawhai Charteris is also competing in the Under 16 category. He started surfing when he was seven years old. He also would like to become a pro surfer and, like Jack, is a deep thinker about his passion for the waves. "I’m beyond the point of no return. I live and breathe surfing. It’s who I am, it’s what defines me."

Competing in the Under 14 category, James Scott is the youngest of the trio we spoke to. He also started surfing when he was seven years old. He’s no less eloquent than Jack and Atawhai. "First step is to get to the New Zealand National Championships. And then nothing is going to stop me to turn pro. The water is my home," he said. James has already had the privilege to surf at some of the world’s best spots, including Rincon in California and Bell’s Beach in Australia.

Asking the three surfers if they would like their future wives to be surfers too, the answers were, surprisingly, varied.

James was fairly adamant that his future soul mate will have to love the waves as much as he does. Jack thought it will be better for him to have someone who’s happy to sit on the beach and take photos of him in the water. Atawhai was more contemplative. "It will be good if she can surf, but ultimately she has to be happy. And then I’ll be happy."

That left Jamie who, it turned out, is a global surfer - Europe, Indonesia, South America and Australia. "And wherever I go, I drag my surfboard, my skateboard and my spear gun with me," he said. And then he hastily added, "And my wife too, of course."

Asking Jamie if he thinks surfing has potential as a sport at MBAS, he didn’t hesitate to say yes. "We have some really good surfers here. If we keep on supporting and developing them, some champions are going to come out of the school."

The second Coromandel Secondary Schools surfing competition will be held on 20 August in Mercury Bay (either Hot Water Beach or Whangapoua). The third competition will take place at Waihi Beach on 10 August.

If your dog lives with you in Thames Coromandel District and is three months old or more, then you must register it. If your dog currently registered then it's time to update his or her registration for 2014-15.

TCDC will know which dogs are up-to-date with their registrations as their records are updated when dog registration is paid and by the colour of the tag they're wearing - so make sure you've paid up and your dog is proudly wearing the new tag.

All dogs (some exemptions apply) must also be micro chipped if they were registered after July 2006.

The registration tag belongs to the dog, not the owner. So if you sell or give away your dog, the tag must go with it as proof of registration. Replacement tags are available free of charge.

Any dogs not registered may be seized by dog control officers and owners may receive a $300 fine. TCDC has zero tolerance for unregistered dogs as the registration fee contributes towards the costs for managing dog control in the district.

Dog registration notices have been sent to owners and are due for payment by 31 July.

To get details on the cost to register your dog and how to pay either online, by post or at TCDC offices, go to

Funding round for community grants now open

Thames Coromandel District Council’s 2014/2015 funding round for Community Grants is now open. Community grants help local organisations pay for specific projects or maintenance of facilities that benefit the local community, support not-for-profit community organisations which have a positive impact on the community and recognise, support and enhance volunteer effort in the community.

Last year the Community Boards allocated an amount of $129,750 from the Community Grant Fund among those that applied for funding in 2013/2014.

Some of the recipients from the 2013/14 round were the Coromandel Flying Club for a helipad, The Friends of Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve Trust to provide the “Experiencing Marine Reserves” programme, Matariki Ki Tairua Trust to assist with establishment costs and consents for the He Waka Tuturu, Totally Thames Inc for the Wearable Arts Festival and the Whangamata Gymnastics Club to purchase new floor mats. 

For more information and to download the guidelines and application forms, see

Applications close 5pm on Friday 1 August 2014.

Never a dull moment

Whitianga Coastguard has had many highlights the past five years, including getting a new big boat and the opening of an extended shed with a training room and a state of the art incident room (the envy of many other units around the country). And this Sunday 6 July another milestone will be celebrated with the launch of "Endeavour," the unit’s brand new Naiad 4.8m rigid inflatable boat.

"We needed a second boat small enough to go up the Whitianga and Purangi estuaries and across the Whangapoua Bar and also to do work close to shore," said Stuart Brown, Whitianga Coastguard president.

"We are really grateful towards John Masters for managing the project to obtain Endeavour and main sponsors Trillian Trust, Pub Charity, Trust Waikato and Sky City Hamilton.

"We’ll also make the boat available to people who don’t have their own boats and who need practical experience to get day skipper and VHF radio licences. After all, we’re her to ensure people are safe on the water."

Whitianga Coastguard was formed in 1969 and was known as Whitianga Marine Radio. It was initially just a radio service for commercial vessels, which was later extended to include local recreational boats. The unit became affiliated with New Zealand Coastguard in 1992.

The unit today boasts four radio operators and 20 rescue vessel volunteers. Six of the crew are qualified skippers and three are trained in incident management. "We have three new rescue vessel crew starting very soon, but we’re always looking for more radio operators and volunteers," said Stuart.

Stuart, who owns Longshore Marine in Whitianga with his wife Diana, joined the unit three and a half years ago. "I did a VHF and day skipper course and Alan Jackson [a long time Whitianga local] asked me if I wanted to join the Coastguard. We were relatively new in town and I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer. I enjoy fishing and being on the water, so it wasn’t a hard decision.

"We train regularly, at least every second week, and you come to know the other members of the unit really well. There’s a great camaraderie among us.
A few weeks ago we had a pizza night at the shed, watching the All Blacks’ first test against England. It’s pretty awesome to do things like that with people who have the same interests as you do."

Whitianga Coastguard’s two major fundraising activities every year are the sale of New Zealand Coastguard Summer Lottery tickets and the Scallop Festival. "The Scallop Festival is a big event for us. We sell scallops, mussels and oysters in all shapes and forms and normally raise more than $6,000.
It’s great fun, but hard work," said Stuart

"I remember in 2011, the Friday afternoon before the Scallop Festival, I was part of the crew that responded to a call-out to a boat with fuel issues at the very top of the Coromandel. It took us nine and a half hours to get there and back. We missed the All Blacks v Japan World Cup Game that night,
but, good for us, we didn’t have to prep for the Scallop Festival the following day. I tell you what, never a dull moment with the Coastguard."

Whitianga Coastguard will have an open day from 11:00am this Sunday where everyone will be welcome to look around their shed and meet their crew and radio operators. Endeavour will be launched at 2:30pm.

Thames Coromandel District Council is now taking applications for the 2014/2015 rates rebate year.

The TCDC Tairua-Pauanui office is holding two rates rebates clinics for anyone needing help applying or processing their rates rebate applications. The application form  can be downloaded from here or can be picked up from any of the TCDC offices. The closing date for applications is 30 June 2015.

The Rates Rebates Clinics are on -

Thursday 14 August 2014
9:30 am - 11:30 am
Pauanui Library

Thursday,14 August 2014
1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Tairua Library, 2 Manaia Road

The Rates Rebate Scheme was established in 1973 to provide assistance to low-income homeowners on the cost of their rates. The Government increased the rates rebate thresholds for the 2014/15 rating year following a review that was recently completed.

The following changes came into effect from 1 July 2014 -

Maximum rebate has increased from $595 to $605.

Income threshold has increased from $23,870 to $24,250.

The additional income allowance for dependants will remain at $500 per dependant.

This means the income threshold for a full rates rebate for the 2014/15 year is $24,250 and is increased by $500 for each dependant in the household.

Although a ratepayer's income might exceed the income threshold, a rates rebate could still be available, depending on the rates amount and number of dependants.

Rates increase for Coromandel property owners

The Thames Coromandel District average property rate will increase by a projected 2.21% for this coming financial year (2014/2015).

This is less than what was forecast in Thames Coromandel District Council’s draft 2014/2015 Annual Plan, which was a projected increase of 2.6%

"I want to thank all the staff and our financial team who have worked hard to keep the rates increase to a minimum for our ratepayers, given that there's a lot of big ticket projects we're investing in, like the Coromandel Harbour and Coromandel Great Walks," said Mayor Glenn Leach.

"Development contributions have also been less than we hoped for, which means that the interest on the loans for some of our additional capacity infrastructure, like the three wastewater treatment plants, is being  passed on to our current ratepayers in the short term.

"We have been able to make some savings in other ways, through cost efficiencies in our operational expenditure and also reducing next year's capital expenditure budget by $4 million.”

Mercury Bay rates on a property with a value of $400,000 will increase from $2,521 to $2,561and in Tairua-Pauanui it will increase from $2,527 to $2,567.

Heart, Foreigner and Three Dog Night coming to Whitianga

Touring both the North and South Islands this coming summer, 2013 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Heart, along with legendary rock band Foreigner, will combine with the ever-faithful hit-makers Three Dog Night for the Summer Concert Tour 2015, a can’t miss opportunity for lovers of classic rock to get their latest fix.

Amidst the surrounds of Whitianga Waterways Arena - Greenstone Entertainment brings to audiences an incredible line up of musicians, much akin to their previous successful tours of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Starship and 10cc, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Bachman & Turner and America, The Doobie Brothers and Little River Band, CCR and Dr Hook.

Amanda Calvert, CEO of Greenstone Entertainment said, “We are excited to announce the inclusion of Whitianga as part of our successful Summer Concert Tour which also includes Taupo and Gibbston Valley Winery in Queenstown. We have entered into a 5 year agreement with Whitianga Waterways to host one of the shows each year and are starting off with an incredible line-up. It will be the first time that both Heart and Foreigner have toured throughout our beautiful country. These three legendry artists together, bring a huge song list and will have everyone rocking throughout the day. The afternoon concert ticks all the right boxes and combined with it being Auckland Anniversary long weekend should reach capacity crowds as it does in Taupo and Queenstown. We will be supporting local suppliers and businesses and have a limited number of local price tickets at only $89…”

2013 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Ann and Nancy Wilson first showed the world that women can rock when their band, Heart stormed the charts in the ‘70’s with hits like “Crazy on You,” “Magic Man,” “Barracuda,” “Straight On,” and so many more. Heart continued topping the charts through the 80’s and 90’s with huge hits like “These Dreams,” “Alone” and “What About Love.” Nearly 35 years after their first big hit, Ann and Nancy Wilson were back in the Billboard Top 10 in 2010 with Heart’s “Red Velvet Car” album and a Top 5 DVD (“Night at Sky Church”), followed by 2012’s “Fanatic” release. Later that year, the pair were asked to perform “Stairway to Heaven” as the finale to the 2012 Kennedy Centre Honours tribute to Led Zeppelin - visibly moving Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones and bringing the entire audience to their feet.

Led by Songwriters Hall Of Fame inductee Mick Jones, and with ten multi-platinum albums and sixteen Top 30 hits, Foreigner is universally hailed as one of the most popular rock acts in the world, with a formidable musical arsenal that continues to propel sold-out tours and album sales, now exceeding 75 million copies.  In May of this year, the download versions of six of Foreigner’s hits were certified gold and platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.  That is more than any other Classic Rock artist and illustrates Foreigner’s dominance of the genre in the digital era.  Responsible for some of rock and roll’s most enduring anthems including “Juke Box Hero,” “Feels Like The First Time,” “Urgent,” “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” “Double Vision,” “Hot Blooded,” “Cold As Ice,” “Dirty White Boy,” and the worldwide number one hit, “I Want To Know What Love Is,” Foreigner continues to rock the charts more than thirty years into the game.

Grammy-nominated Three Dog Night are not content resting on their legacy alone - a legacy that boasts over 50 million units sold and 21 straight top 40 hits, including the three number one Billboard singles “Mama Told Me (Not To Come),” “Black and White,” and “Joy To The World” plus chart-toppers “Shambala,” “Liar" and “One." Always working to expand their audience, the band have embraced and been embraced by 21st century music technology as new fans discover their music online as well as at the good old fashioned record store. While their catalogue releases from this decade alone have sold well over a million copies, the band also debuted their first new studio recordings in nearly 25 years with the "double-A sided", digital single “Heart of Blues/Prayer of the Children”.

Experience three of the world most definitive classic rock acts, kicking off the live music calendar in 2015 in spectacular fashion.

Heart, Foreigner and Three Dog Night will play at the Whitianga Waterways Arena, Whitianga on Sunday 25 January 2015 (Anniversary Weekend). Local tickets are limited - $89 (plus booking fee) at the Whitianga i-site, the Thames i-site, the Tairua Info Centre, the Pauanui Info Centre and Info Plus Whangamata. All other bookings are $99 (plus booking fee) through (0800 TICKETEK).

Along with our regular Mercury Bay news and articles, keep up to date with the latest events and happenings in the Whitianga, Pauanui and Tairui areas on our coming events page.


Council approves funding for rock walls to further protect Mercury Bay beaches

Work has been approved to preserve Buffalo and Cooks Beach from further coastal erosion following the severe storm that hit the Coromandel in early June.

Thames Coromandel District Council has approved $991,440 out of its Hazard Management Activity to complete the Stage Two extension of a rock wall at Buffalo Beach as well as construction of an extension to the Cooks Beach rock wall.

Council has approved these works after some sections of Buffalo Beach between the end of the newly finished NZTA wall extension and the Buffalo Memorial Area eroded up to 1m following the storm in early June. Large areas of the beachfront at Council's Purangi Reserve, Cooks Beach has also been lost to coastal erosion. The Cook Memorial at Cooks Beach had to be removed and a number of pine trees were also lost.

"People come to visit both these places because of the outstanding coastal lifestyle," said TCDC Mayor Glenn Leach. "This June storm isn't a one-off and what's frightening is the rate that these areas of beach are disappearing.  It's only going to get worse, so we need to do something about it.

“The work that's being planned to deal with this erosion is cost-effective and already part of our Coastal Management Strategy."

The work at Buffalo Beach will entail extending the existing rock wall another 120m, costing $633,100 with construction planned to start late 2014/early 2015 and be completed in 2-3 months, subject to resource consent being obtained.

At Cooks Beach an amount of $358,340 has been approved to carry out design and resource consenting for an extension of the existing rock wall.

Brophy’s Beach at the northern end of Whitianga has also suffered significant erosion during the early June storm. Funding has earlier this financial year been approved for a geotextile bag to be constructed at the beach to curb further erosion. Work is scheduled to start early in the TCDC financial year commencing 1 July 2014.

Learn more about the Cooks Beach area here.


Latest business rest of site

The French Fig

The French Fig offers an all day menu with a focus on fresh flavours and quality. We have a delicious selection of cabinet food and also have vegetarian and gluten free options available


Should there a total ban on backyard fireworks on the Coromandel?

The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.